New York is a big tourist draw, but "the city's reputation of being expensive is fairly earned," says Ethan Wolff, author of "Frommer's NYC Free & Dirt Cheap."
"But there are a lot of inexpensive and free experiences," he says.
Take in the scenery from the Staten Island Ferry. "It's a free ride with a gorgeous view of New York harbor and the Statue of Liberty," Wolff says.
See more free sights by walking from Chinatown to Little Italy, then to SoHo and Greenwich Village.
Times Square and Central Park are free to explore as well, and the nonprofit Big Apple Greeter program offers free guided walking tours through historic neighborhoods. A subway pass is also a must, Wolff says. A seven-day unlimited pass is $29.
Hotels are rarely cheap for this American vacation, but you can save by visiting in January to March, or in summer, when rooms cost about 75 percent less than busier times.
If a trip to the city's museums is on the to-do list, plan to go on designated free days. For the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the $20 admission charge is "recommended." In other words, you can pay what you want.